SPOTLIGHT: Market Cross Guest House, North East England

Published on
24 January 2024

A five-star guest house in Northumberland is celebrating after winning a host of prestigious national and regional awards for its service in the hospitality sector.

Situated in the quaint village of Belford, Market Cross was recognised with the AA Guest Accommodation of the Year 2023 for England award, as well as winning the Gold award in the North East England Tourism Awards 2023.

Amanda and Steve White have owned and managed the former Georgian coaching house turned bed and breakfast since 2012. The pair purchased the property with support from The Cumberland Building Society and have had a flourishing professional relationship with the Society for the last decade.

The most recent awards add to Market Cross’s already successful 2023, with the guest house picking up the AA Dinner Award and AA Award Winning Breakfast award earlier in the year for its fine cuisine.

Despite the challenges faced by the hospitality sector in recent years, following the pandemic and amid the cost-of-living crisis, Amanda and Steve met these challenges head-on with support from The Cumberland.

Reflecting on the past few years, Amanda said: “We’ve been very lucky, especially with the pandemic which really affected the hospitality and tourism sector. Two nearby B&Bs unfortunately had to close for good which shows just how hard the area was hit, so we are incredibly grateful for the support we received during that time.”

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, the pair were granted a six-month mortgage break and then were reintroduced onto an interest-only tariff to help alleviate the impact of the loss of earnings.

They have since switched back to their normal repayment scheme but noted that their Relationship Manager at The Cumberland, Graeme Rayson, is always on hand for support.

“Graeme is always checking in with us to make sure everything is okay which is very reassuring. Knowing that we are in a safe pair of hands with The Cumberland is incredibly important to us.”

Amanda credits the success of their business as being down to the pair’s ability to adapt to changing situations.

“We had a very successful business before lockdown, but the way of the world had completely changed when we were able to reopen our doors. We knew that we had to recoup the losses incurred through being closed for months on end and so we adapted in any way we could to survive.

“We faced some staffing issues, but we knew we wanted to continue to deliver an outstanding hospitality business which Belford and the North East could be proud of, so we adapted and took on jobs such as cleaning roles ourselves.

Coming out of lockdown, we saw that nearby restaurants had reduced capacity and were under pressure to cater for those who were visiting the area. So, we introduced evening meals to provide another option for our guests.” Amanda, who is a trained chef, said.

“This offering proved really popular for those who stay with us and is something we’ve kept to this day. With everything down to the granola and baked beans being homemade, this is something which has really resonated with guests.

“Since we began our journey at Market Cross, The Cumberland has been hugely supportive throughout, especially in the past few years as we have had to look at ways to pivot to maintain our standards and keep us front of mind for visitors. No matter what, they are there to provide guidance, advice, and in the case of the pandemic, helped us navigate a difficult situation with their expertise.”

Graeme Rayson, Commercial Customer Support Manager at The Cumberland said: “It’s clear to see that Amanda and Steve are devoted to their business and ensuring that every guest that walks through their doors has a memorable experience. The countless awards, returning custom and five-star reviews speak for themselves. Market Cross is a longstanding success story in the North East and it’s fantastic to see the pair go from strength to strength.

“A core ambition of The Cumberland is to build strong, long-lasting relationships with hospitality businesses which will serve both parties well moving forward, no matter what challenges are on the horizon. Market Cross is a shining example of this and the results are clear to see with their recent award wins.

“A huge congratulations to them, and well done on receiving thoroughly deserved recognition for their work.”

For more information on Market Cross Guest House, please click here.

For more information on The Cumberland Building Society, please click here.